NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Federal-Mogul Holdings (FDML - Get Report) said Wednesday it will split into two publicly traded companies in a move that the Carl Icahn-controlled autoparts supplier said will free up capital for potential acquisitions.
Southfield, Mich.-based Federal-Mogul said that it intends to separate its powertrain and motorparts divisions in a tax-free distribution to shareholders expected to occur in the first half of 2015. The company created its motorparts division in 2012, and in the years since has done small deals to build its aftermarket presence.
Motorparts sells and distributes a range of brands including Anco wiper blades, Champion spark plugs and wipers, Moog steering and suspensions and Wagner brakes. Icahn, who as of June 30 owned 80% of Federal-Mogul's shares and serves as chairman of the company's board, in a statement said that the split would create two strong entities.
"Upon separation, the newly formed Federal-Mogul Motorparts will have a strong balance sheet with access to large amounts of capital enabling it to pursue synergistic acquisitions in the highly fragmented aftermarket industry," Icahn said. "In addition, the remaining Federal-Mogul Powertrain business will benefit from enhanced management focus and the allocation of resources more directly aligned with its strategic priorities."
Rainer Jueckstock, co-CEO of the company and head of its powertrain unit, said that the split would allow his unit to "pursue market opportunities to expand our scope, size and footprint, focusing on core components for combustion engines that offer a strong strategic fit with our existing portfolio."
Federal-Mogul, in business since 1899, currently employs more than 45,000 in 34 countries. The company fell into bankruptcy due to asbestos-related liabilities in 2002 and emerged in 2008 under Icahn's control. The investor in 2011 hired Lazard to explore a sale of the company, according to sources at the time, but apparently was unable to find an attractive deal.
With parts makers focused on gaining scale in specific areas instead of diversification, two more specialized companies could eventually prove to be more attractive to potential buyers than the combined Federal-Mogul was earlier in the decade.